25 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram 63 LONDON, 24 January 1940


As a result of French representations (Dominions Office D.37) [1] action against Narvik shipments further examined by War Cabinet today and proposal for laying mine fields in Norwegian territorial waters considered.

In my view there is an absence of clear thinking as to objectives and consequences of contemplated action.

I have accordingly urged United Kingdom Government that it is unreasonable to ask for concurrence of Dominions in action which might have the most far-reaching consequences unless they have been fully informed of grounds which led to decision, of possible consequences that may result, and of steps that could be taken to meet them.

Endeavouring to arrange meeting tomorrow with Prime Minister [2] and Halifax. [3] I am hopeful that as a result of such meeting full information down the lines indicated above will be cabled for your comment before final decision taken by War Cabinet. [4]


1 The cablegram referred to was in fact D34 of 20 January 1940 (on file AA: A981, Europe 30, ii). It reported the opinion of the French Govt that 'on the grounds of moral effect, particularly among the neutrals, the blockade of Narvik and the appointment of vessels to Petsamo should be carried out with a minimum delay'.

The French Govt's views were set out in more detail in U.K.

Dominions Office cablegram D41 of 24 January (on file AA: A1608, A41/1/1, vii).

2 Neville Chamberlain.

3 U.K. Foreign Secretary.

4 At 9.03 p.m. on 24 January 1940 Bruce cabled to Menzies: 'Am now more hopeful that the dangerous adventure in Scandinavia without full consideration of the consequences unlikely. Meeting with the Prime Minister tomorrow.' (See Bruce's cablegram 67 on file AA:

A1608, A41/1/1, vii.)

[AA: A981, EUROPE 30, ii]